Let’s talk about suicide.
More than 39,000 people die each year from suicide. That is more than twice the rate in this country of homicidal deaths. One million people, annually, make a suicide attempt in the U.S. We need to think of these losses as preventable, as we already approach deaths from accidents and illnesses where prevention, early detection, and employing effective interventions are lifesaving.
Lloyd I. Sederer, M.D., “Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night” on The Huffington Post (see link below).
Knowing what you can do to prevent suicide is like knowing how to perform CPR: you hope you never have to use that knowledge, but if you’re ever in a situation where you do, you’ll be thankful you can. People who commit suicide are just like you. They have jobs and families. They experience stress. They might even seem “perfectly normal” to almost everyone around them. Some have faced joblessness and homelessness. Others are wildly successful at their careers and own multiple houses. You might know someone who has tried to commit suicide (and maybe you don’t even know it). You have absolutely no way of knowing whether you, a family member, a co-worker, or a friend may become suicidal in the future.
September 10 is World Suicide Prevention Day, a collaboration of International Association for Suicide Prevention, the World Health Organization, and the World Federation for Mental Health. Consider this post a Public Service Announcement that YOU have the power to help prevent suicide.
I know several people who have contemplated or attempted suicide. In high school, one of my close friends was suspected of being suicidal, as was a mutual classmate of ours; both were taken to a mental health facility. My friend was (and is) one of the smartest people I have ever met. She has a quick wit, easily learned anything she put her mind to learning from language to musical instruments, and was a prolific writer. People liked her and thought she was hilariously funny. My classmate–someone I didn’t know as well as I would have liked, mainly because she was so incredibly cool that she intimidated me–was gorgeous. She had beautiful wavy hair and the kind of looks that never needed makeup to light up a room. Her sense of personal style was chic but not commercial; I admired her ability to create outfits and imagined she just rolled out of bed perfectly dressed. She was also very smart, artistic, and seemed to have a lot of friends. Another one of my high school classmates–funny, popular, involved in all sorts of extracurricular activities–exhibited some suicidal tendencies. His family tried to help; while you might hesitate to call it suicide, he went rollerblading at night on a narrow dark street, wearing all black, with no ID. These are just my high school friends; I know others too.
Please take five minutes out of your day to learn about suicide and what you can do to prevent suicide. Only have one minute? My friend Carlee is participating in the AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk in San Diego. Today also happens to be her birthday, so if you have $5 please donate. (If you don’t have $5, please consider skipping tomorrow’s trip to Starbucks?) From her campaign page you can also learn more about how you can participate in a walk yourself.
The number one piece of advice I have found to prevent suicide is to REACH OUT. Anxiety and depression are very common among adolescents and young adults (but also exist in all other populations!) and can lead to suicidal thoughts. Many of the articles I’ve read today suggest that a sense of connectedness and community are important in preventing suicide.
If nothing else, keep this number handy: Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
If you have reason to believe someone is in imminent danger of killing themselves, this is a life-threatening emergency. Call 911 or your local emergency number.
The Crisis Text Line http://www.crisistextline.org/get-help-now/
A collaboration among Facebook, The Jed Foundation, and The Clinton Foundation.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention http://www.afsp.org/
International Association for Suicide Prevention http://www.iasp.info/ @IASPinfo on twitter
Follow the links for World Suicide Prevention Day for quick reads on suicide prevention and more resources.
World Federation for Mental Health http://wfmh.com/
Among other resources, there is a downloadable guidebook called “Mental Illness and Suicide–A Family Guide to Facing & Reducing the Risks” available in English and Spanish.
Huffington Post: There are multiple articles posted today on this topic. Here is the link to the one I referenced above.